EXETER, England (StudyFinds.org) – People who contract COVID-19 could still be contagious for more than two months, new research warns. Of course, staying contagious that long is much less likely, but scientists are hoping to expand the study to get a better idea of how many people might be carriers for a long time.
Researchers from the University of Exeter in England report that 13% of patients are still infectious and have clinically relevant virus levels after 10 days of quarantine. In the most extreme cases, individuals were still carriers of the virus for 68 days. There’s nothing “clinically remarkable” about people remaining with high levels of the virus, the study found, meaning it could happen to anyone.
For the study, the researchers applied a new test to 176 people who had tested positive on standard PCRs to determine if the virus was still active. The findings suggest the new test should be applied in settings where people are vulnerable to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Although a relatively small study, our results suggest that potentially active virus can sometimes persist beyond a 10-day period and could pose a potential risk for further transmission,” says the Study co-author Lorna Harries, a professor at the University of Exeter School of Medicine, in a statement. “Furthermore, there was nothing clinically remarkable about these people, which means we wouldn’t be able to predict who they are.”
Harries and his team warn that people should always be careful around those who have recently been infected. This is particularly the case after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reduced the recommended isolation time to five days for infected patients.
“In some settings, such as people returning to care homes after illness, people who continue to be infectious after ten days could pose a serious public health risk,” says lead author Dr Merlin. Davies. “We may need to make sure people in these environments have a negative active virus test to make sure people are no longer infectious. We now want to conduct larger trials to investigate this further. »
It was not mentioned in the press release whether the team is pursuing a larger study.
The research is published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
South West News Service writer Joe Morgan contributed to this report.
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